Spirits of the Solstice

One of my favorite Christmas stories has always been Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. The haunting backdrop of silence as Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened from his sleep by the sounds of chains and the ghostly voice of his former business partner always sends a chill up my spine. It was even more thrilling with the ghost warning him of three spirits who would visit for the purpose of showing Scrooge the error of his ways.
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Athens Lunatic Asylum


As we continue our journey into the asylums of long ago, I feel compelled to speak a bit about the state of mental health care today. De-institutionalization was enacted by President Ronald Regan in the 1980s, releasing many patients who were functional yet still had the need for more assistance in the outside world. This assistance did not come easily and in some cases, never came at all. The conditions in many of these hospitals were awful and the treatments barbaric–and yet to many of the patients, it was far more frightening when they were turned out of the only home they ever knew. The system is far from being perfect, even in today’s modern age. The mentally ill continue to face much ignorance-based prejudice and state hospitals are still crowded and understaffed. We’ve changed the language to make it all sound better when the first step should have been to actually work to make it better.
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Weird Illinois Part 2: The Enchanting Eccentric

Now for part two of the strangeness I have called home for the last forty (something) years.  This edition of Troy Taylor’s “Weird Illinois” takes us to the town of Kewanee and the man who created a landmark that was ahead of its time and a legacy that will not be soon forgotten.”No one can be profoundly original who does not avoid eccentricity.”
Andre Maurois
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Weird Illinois: The Story of Dorothy


Well…it’s my turn for the Weird Weekend, and let me tell you folks..Illinois can be the land of the odd! Much of it has been captured previously in the book “Weird Illinois” by Troy Taylor. It covers many attractions in the “Land of Lincoln”, some of which I grew up near and have been able to visit. However, the ones I have chosen for blogging are two that I have never had the opportunity to see. One is the sad story of a young girl’s grave whose name will be forever remembered in fantasy. The other is the legacy of a man with a unique vision and everlasting love for the woman who saw his eccentricity as brilliance. So sit back and read today of the girl whose life ended far too soon, but whose name has lived on in the stories of her uncle–a man named Lyman Frank Baum.
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Ghost Towns: Prypiat, Ukraine

“For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev Oblast. For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 2 p.m. each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food…..”   (evacuation note to the citizens of Prypiat, issued April 27, 1986)
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